Education: To Know Good Is To Do Good

By Emmanuel Egbo. Emmanuel, 20, is studying anatomy at the University of Nigeria, in Nsukka. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

From the annals of history, evidences abound to show that education is one concept that the world can never do without; it is incontrovertible that education has been able to convey the world from the darkness of obscurity to the limelight of development. Sight is never recorded with closed eyes, this is exactly what it has achieved and is achieving; it opens the eyes to clearer visions, the mind to better insights and the brain unto thoughtful reasoning. It then becomes a truth to add that the place of education cannot be overshadowed by any other thing, it is the strong foundation upon which every human advancement is found. Socrates, the encyclopedic mind of Greek extraction maintained that “to know good is to do good”, a critical appraisal of this thought shows equally that he whose knowledge of good is poor, is most likely not to do good, you cannot offer what you do not have after all. This establishes unarguably that there is a link between the action of men and what they know. Anyone who understands law will always fight against breaking it, the knowledge of the pros and cons of our actions serves as mighty guards and guides as well. This explains why the greater percentage of terrorists are illiterate men and women; you definitely cannot convince a university professor to engage in suicide bombing, neither will no reason make an educated individual join a terrorist group; simply because he knows and cherishes the value of human life and dignity. Education, therefore, is a veritable tool in reducing crime rates in the society.

We consider the results of a 1997 research which showed that seventy-five percent of the states and fifty-nine percent federal prison inmates in the United States of America did not have a high school diploma[1]. In 2001, more than seventy-five percent convicted persons in Italy had not completed high school[2]. The same form of report is obtained from everywhere around the world, it suffices to assert that people who are less educated are more susceptible to committing crimes and invariably fill the prisons.

A truth which no one can deny is that poverty constitutes the major causing-factor of crimes in human society. Education is an investment in human capital, when one is equipped with the right kind/ adequate education, (s)he is left with various opportunities of gainful employment, he is able to meet his basic needs; this translates into economic improvement for society and at the same time keeps the individual free from the negative thoughts that saturate the mind of an idle man; hence human capital is the best national resource which serves the two-fold purposes of reducing crime and improving the standard of living. The overall consequence is that people who could have become bandits turn into men of integrity, building a society where non-conformists or deviants do not thrive.

More so, education is a mind-refiner, it modifies our thought pattern, refocusing it to think as it should. Illiterate persons are like sponges, they readily absorb any counsel/information because their reasoning ability is under-developed. A literate individual knows that rape inflicts pain, he knows the emotional devastation that the victim may suffer and he knows that he can be tracked/sent to jail, so he refrains from such acts, not just because of the obvious consequences, but also because of the new understanding that he has, a grip on education is a breath unto a sustainable transformation of the mind. In 2004, Lochner and Moretti discovered through a research that a one-year increase in average education levels in a state reduces state-level arrest rates by eleven percent[3]. Education, therefore, remains important in reducing crime rates.

In the school environment, people get to meet one another, sharing ideas, learning about others and their unique way of life. This builds tolerance and assists in reducing violence, especially among young people. In this way, it minimizes all forms of fanaticism – religious, political, etc. This stops a lot of violent upsurges that stem from fanatical beliefs. People get to focus on becoming better individuals without interfering with the belief-system of other people; we understand that the world is a system, comprising of many different units, requiring one another to function without disrupting the activities of another.

A prison is built for the confinement of criminals – people who are found guilty of crimes or those awaiting trial; in other words, people who are not criminals do not go to prison. Providing schooling facilities for people in the society is rather unparalleled as far as fighting criminality is concerned – juvenile and adult inclusively; when there is no one to commit a crime, there will be none to go to prison, If education can succeed in closing every loophole that causes crime as we saw from the foregoing, it is obvious without doubt that the idea of Victor Hugo is flawless, and I am confident to declare with him: He who opens a school door, closes a prison.

[1] Harlow, C.W. (2003), Education and Correctional Populations, US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington DC.

[2] Buonanno, P. and L. Leonida (2006), “Education and Crime: Evidence from Italian Regions”, Applied Economics Letters 13, 709-13.

[3] Lochner, L. and E. Moretti (2004), “The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports”, American Economic Review 94, 155-80.

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